Box Notes Review

Box Notes is a decent note-taking app that comes with several gigs of free storage courtesy of its cloud storage big brother, Box. However, it doesn't quite have the punch and wherewithal of its main competitors. Read our full Box Notes review for the details.

Vladimir Sumina
By Vladimir Sumina (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2020-11-17T11:28:06+00:00 Facts checked by Andrea Babic

With so many excellent note-taking apps available, it can be difficult to choose the best one. Whether you intend to use the app for work, school or private matters, there are some features that every notes application has to have. In this Box Notes review, we will go over every aspect of its design and see how it compares to other products for taking notes.

Box notes is developed by Box, Inc., an enterprise that focuses on cloud management and file-sharing software. Its services are geared primarily to businesses, and this is apparent in Box Notes. Designed for project management and real-time collaboration, Box Notes is useful for taking and sharing meeting notes, but it lacks advanced — and even some basic — tools for anything more.

box notes get started
Getting started with Box Notes is quick and easy.

Compared to the best note-taking apps, such as Evernote, Box Notes comes off as simplistic and very limited in what it can do and be used for. No ink-to-text conversion, optical character recognition (OCR) and tools for taking audio and video are serious shortcomings, but Box Notes does have its place as it’s employed by many businesses that use Box for its unlimited online storage.

  • Box Notes is a note-taking app. Though it is sorely lacking in advanced features that we’ve come to expect from the best notes apps, it is a good choice for businesses that use Box as their cloud storage and file syncing and sharing (EFSS) provider. Box Notes’ collaborative sharing feature allows up to 30 users to simultaneously edit the same document.

  • It all depends on what you plan to use the notes app for and which tools you consider the most important. Our overall top pick is Evernote, followed by OneNote, but Zoho Notebook and Google Keep are also some of the best software for note-taking.

  • This is only available on Business Plus plans. To create a custom Box Notes template, fill out the note according to your specifications. Next, open the “more options” menu (the three dots in the upper-right corner) and choose the “set this as a template” option. The next time you choose a note from a template, you will be able to select this custom one.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Free plan
  • Real-time collaboration & project management

Weaknesses:

  • No advanced features
  • Slow syncing on mobile apps

1. Features

55 % – Fair

The way Box Notes works is similar to Microsoft OneNote. Both apps are integrated into a larger cloud storage service, Box in Box Notes’ case and Microsoft OneDrive for OneNote. The total cloud storage space is shared across all related apps, so if you upload files — or entire folders — to Box, you will have less space overall for your notes. With 10GB available on the free account alone, this still amounts to a lot of notes.

box products
All the Box products, including Box Notes.

Box Notes Sharing

Box Notes’ most important feature is its collaborative sharing. Up to 30 users can work on and edit the same note in real time. If you’ve used Google Docs for business or school collaboration projects, then you know how this works. You create a note and then share it or invite other people to directly work on the document with you.

box notes sharing
Box Notes sharing options.

Like Google Docs, you can give users different levels of permissions. They can view the documents, or they can be editors and upload, download, share and edit the notes and files within them. Leaving comments is also an option, so the entire team can pitch in with their ideas and opinions on the note without directly changing the text.

box notes comments
Commenting in Box Notes.

You can invite people via email or by generating a direct web link that will provide them with access to the note. As in Google Docs, you can restrict access to users you’ve invited, or make it so that anyone that has the link can see or edit the content. Version history lets you see which notes have been recently edited and allows you to roll back to an older version.

box notes shared link settings
Box Notes shared link settings.

Depending on permissions granted, you can also set your shared links to expire after a certain amount of time and restrict their access with a password. Both of these are reliable and useful security measures, and password-protecting your links isn’t an available feature in Google Docs.

The Box Admin Console gives you access to advanced tools for managing users and content, insights and reports, as well as other options pertaining to running your business using Box. The Admin Console is only available on paid plans, which we will talk about later in the pricing section of the review.

Box Notes Advanced Features

Box Notes doesn’t fare too well concerning more advanced features, either. OCR, ink-to-text conversion, dictation, audio and video content are not available. These tools are some of the best ways you can reduce your workload and save time instead of having to manually type out text.

Since Box Notes doesn’t have drawing support, the lack of some of these tools is to be expected. Not having all of them combined seems like a considerable shortcoming, especially for a note-taking app that is catered to business needs and team productivity. The best note-taking apps make full use of these tools, making them very popular among users.

Box Notes Text Editing

When it comes to text editing, Box Notes offers only the bare minimum of options and is easily beaten out by more competent word processors such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word. One glaring omission is its inability to change fonts, leaving you stuck with the default. Luckily, you can choose the font size and the usual bold, italics and strikethrough options are also still available.

You can change the text color, but only nine colors are available at this time. Formatting options include text alignment, tables and lists. The checklist, in particular, is a great project management tool that every small business or enterprise can use to great effect. There’s also the option to insert images from your device or from the web, but not take them with your camera.

Box can be integrated with Zapier and IFTTT, which allows it to be further connected with Evernote, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Slack, Dropbox as well as on social media and other third-party apps and websites. This allows a higher degree of automation and a more agile business approach since it also includes connections with the best project management software as well.

Box Notes’ Missing Features

Box Notes is one of the best note-taking apps when it comes to business project management, but it doesn’t excel in most other categories. For starters, it lacks one of the most rudimentary note-taking tools: the option to sort and group your notes in notebooks.

Instead, the closest it comes to organizing your documents is the “favorites” section of the app. Here, you can find all the notes that you’ve favorited. Needless to say, this is a system that is functional only as long as you have a few notes you’ve favorited and it becomes useless to find what you are looking for as soon as the notes start piling up.

The option to add your own custom tags is likewise missing, further complicating the use of this app. Without it, you will have an even harder time navigating the app and finding exactly what you are looking for as it limits the number of notes you can mentally keep track of.

box notes search
Searching in Box Notes.

The search option available at the top of the screen scans just the title of the note and not the text contents of the note itself. To search inside the notes, you have to press CTRL+F and enter your search query. Even then, the search tool seemed a bit buggy, since it often failed to find and highlight the right words in our testing.

Features Overview

  • Features

2. Pricing

65 % – Decent

Box Notes is free as part of Box, which has a free plan that comes with 10GB of cloud storage. The amount of storage will depend on your Box subscription, and that storage is shared by all of Box’s apps. By themselves, notes do not take up a lot of space, but you might find that you are running out of cloud storage if you upload a lot of large files such as video content.

box notes box plan
Box Notes payment plans.

Box’s Personal Pro payment plan is priced at $10 per month and comes with 100GB of cloud storage and an upload limit of 5GB per file. This service is aimed at personal users. The other three payment tiers are intended for business owners with teams of at least three users. Each of these is priced per user.

The first business plan is the Starter pack, valued at $7 per month per user, or $5 if paid annually. Like the Personal Pro plan, this also gives you 100GB but sets the upload limit of individual files to 2GB. It comes with extra features such as advanced user management.

The Business and Business Plus plans are priced at $20 and $33 per month, or $15 and $25 if paid annually, respectively. Among other advantages, the Business pack gives you unlimited cloud storage, single sign-on integration and data loss prevention. The Business Plus plan has all of this, plus unlimited external collaborators, custom templates and more.

3. User Experience

75 % – Good

To use Box Notes, you first need to open a free Box account. After you create a new account, you can download Box Notes as a desktop app for PC or macOS, or use it as a web-based app through your browser. The Box app is also available for Android and iOS devices, with Box Notes itself an integrated part of it.

Syncing across devices can sometimes take a while and this is especially apparent when using a mobile device. There is a long and annoying delay until these devices sync up and load. The user interface of the Box app is otherwise very similar to the desktop and web version of the software, though it lacks a couple of their text formatting options.

box notes template
Box Notes templates.

When you want to create new notes, you can choose between making a blank note or one of several note templates. These provide an easy way to make newsletters, project plans or meeting agendas and are a great time-saver for users across all teams. 

Another collaboration tool is the option to make and share custom templates. However, this is only available on Business Plus and Enterprise plans.

box notes ui
Box Notes User Interface.

The user interface design is elegant, with an orderly icon layout. Even users unfamiliar with this type of software are sure to quickly manage their way around and figure out which commands do what. Though when it comes to note-taking app designs, we prefer Zoho Notebook’s artistic, practical look.

4. Security & Privacy

80 % – Good

Box’s privacy policy states that it is fully GDPR compliant and that it values the privacy of its users and that protecting their personal information and data is important. Compared to Google Drive, Box generally has a more open and trustworthy approach when it comes to its privacy policy.

Box Notes’ files are protected in transit by the TLS/SSL protocol and at rest by AES 256-bit encryption, which is a very secure cryptographic protocol. The more expensive payment plans also include additional security features such as single sign-on integrations and the Payment Card Information Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Box’s more expensive plans offer private zero-knowledge encryption. Another Box Notes security measure that guards your privacy and protects your data is two-factor authentication. We always recommend our readers to turn on this option in every software that has it available as soon as you start using it.

Final Verdict

Box Notes is a note-taking app that is specialized in a very specific type of task. It’s best used as a collaboration tool for taking and sharing meeting notes and to-do lists, but its lack of advanced features makes it incapable of competing with better note-taking apps such as Evernote and OneNote.

Business owners that already use Box for cloud storage will benefit from Box Notes the most, as it’s already integrated into the greater Box workspace, meaning others will find little reason to swap out their favorite note-taking app for it.

Are you a Box Notes user? Do you find its team collaboration features useful for your work? How do you think it can improve? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading our Box Notes review.

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